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Tuesday, 16 September 2014

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Former Carlisle jeweller admits four-year benefits fraud

A former Carlisle jeweller has admitted carrying out a four-year benefits fraud.

Susan Lister photo
Susan Lister

Susan Patricia Lister, 59, was paid more than £50,000 in income support and council tax benefits that she was not entitled to between August 2006 and November 2010.

Carlisle Crown Court heard she did it by failing to tell the authorities that she was “living together and maintaining a joint household” with David Lister – something that would have affected her entitlement to such benefits if they had known.

The prosecution based its case on observations by officials from the Department for Work & Pensions, who saw Mr Lister regularly coming and going at the family house, and on documentary evidence which showed that he looked upon it as his home.

Lister, who lives in Marsh House, Burgh by Sands, and now works at the Finesse jewellery shop in Middlegate, Penrith, originally pleaded not guilty to both charges.

But she changed those pleas to guilty yesterday afternoon after the judge, Recorder Louis Browne, told her he would not be sending her to prison if she did. Earlier in the day Lister’s barrister Jerry Baxter applied to have the case adjourned on the grounds that she was not fit for it to go ahead.

He said she suffered from heart disease, was recovering from breast cancer and had recently broken her knee.

But these problems, he said, were not as significant as her mental frailties which included post traumatic stress disorder, anxiety and a personality disorder known as an “avoidance trait” which made it difficult for her to face up to such commitments as going to court.

The judge rejected the application, saying it was in Lister’s own interests for the case to reach a conclusion.

After her guilty pleasLister, who appeared in court on crutches and was accompanied by one of her daughters as an “appropriate adult”, was remanded on bail for background reports. She will be sentenced on February 6.

The judge told her she would probably be given a suspended prison sentence.

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